Fernando Cruz
Fernando Cruz, president of Dynamond Building Services in Lindon Utah, suggests industry members read the book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”

How many successful people learn from past failures and develop new tools to make sure those failures never happen again? One could say that the ability to develop these tools is the very core of successful leaders and organizations. Yet, how would you feel if someone said those very tools that helped you become successful will become the same tools that contribute to your failures? That statement would feel like an oxymoron, but that is exactly what Dr. Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter tell us in their book “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”

The idea that what brought us previous success will not bring future success is almost foreign to us, but if we understand that we are always improving or declining — and that stagnation is a myth — the idea will be easier to digest.

The biggest issue Dr. Goldsmith brings up in this book is what successful people should stop doing and not start doing. By understanding common behavioral flaws identified in this book, we can change and improve our lives and careers. What becomes our career roadblock, Dr. Goldsmith notes, is our behavior, not our technical skills. There are informational and emotional flaws that can be categorized into different categories: information-sharing, information-withholding and emotion-related.

Information-sharing flaws include being negative, overcontributing to projects (which takes ownership away from other employees), and statements beginning with “no,” “but,” or “however.” Information-withholding flaws involve the failure to give recognition or express gratitude, and a refusal to express regret. Examples of emotion-related flaws are destructive comments, “winning” arguments at the expense of a client or employee, speaking when angry, excuse making, not listening, and goal obsession despite moral, ethical or legal concerns.

Recognizing these flaws is the first step to changing and doing so successfully requires courage to stay the course. Dr. Goldsmith outlines seven key methods to keep people on the road to improvement: accepting feedback, apologizing, advertising your efforts to change, listening, expressing gratitude, following up, and feeding-forward (i.e. asking what can be done to improve in the future).

I have learned immensely from this book. By reading it, you will learn as well that if we have the courage to look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves, we can identify our flaws and become better, more successful leaders than we ever thought.